Mortal Kombat: Annihilation

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“Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” is 94 minutes long, including 12 minutes of closing credits. That’s a lot of names for a movie that doesn’t contain a single intelligent thought or coherent story element. That’s a lot of names for a movie that no one put any effort into. Imagine how many people they’d have had to employ if they’d wanted to make a good film!

This is a sequel to “Mortal Kombat,” and you can do the math in your head: Most sequels are bad, and all movies based on video games are bad, so a sequel to a movie based on a video game is going to be … let’s see … carry the two … ah, yes: the worst thing in the world.

We start with Rayden (James Remar), the wise leader of a group of fighters, telling us “Mortal Kombat is not about death, but rather the preservation of life.” As I recall from the first film, Mortal Kombat is the name of the martial-arts tournament in which participants fight to the death, which means, uh, that’s a big fat lie, Rayden. Later, he tries to assert that “Earth does not bend to the will of tyrants,” but this is also obviously untrue. People bend to the will of tyrants all the time. The fact that people are obligated to do what they say is what makes them tyrants.

So despite being full of false platitudes (or perhaps because of it), Rayden is the leader of this squad of elite fighters, who are all sitting around one day when suddenly some evil fighters from another dimension called Outworld show up and start beating them up. Among these bad guys are a woman with four arms and a guy with a scorpion-like tail. It turns out he is a centaur who happens to have a scorpion-like tail, but please do not get him confused with the character who is actually called Scorpion, who has no scorpion-like features at all but does shoot snakes out of his hands.

The bad guys are led by Shao Kahn (Brian Thompson), who, for no reason that I can discern, wears a Skeletor mask during battles. Like his role model, he is fond of proclaiming things. He bellows to the good guys, “The Earth was created in six days — so too shall it be destroyed!” Assuming he actually believes this and is not merely reciting it as a form of mockery, that means Shao Kahn adheres to the Judeo-Christian story concerning the creation of the world. Does that mean the God of the Old Testament created Outworld, too? If so, why isn’t it mentioned in Genesis? Shao Kahn’s declaration presents a number of interesting theological questions.

The good guys, who are all humans, are surprised to see the Outworld people. Since the humans won the Mortal Kombat tournament last time, the portal between Outworld and Earth was supposed to be safely closed for at least a generation. Someone points this out, and Rayden says, “What closes can open again,” to which Sonya (Sandra Hess), the blonde, replies, “What is that supposed to mean?” Well, what do you think it means, dummy? It’s a pretty straightforward statement. “What closes can open again.” Not a lot of subtleties or double meanings there. So I pretty much hate Sonya already, and the movie’s only about 30 seconds old.

It turns out the reason the portal has been opened again is that, um, the Outworld guys opened it. Apparently there was nothing actually stopping them from doing this; having lost the tournament, they were merely on the honor system not to. And now they’ve opened it without the knowledge of the Elder Gods, who are going to be SO STEAMED when Rayden runs and tattles.

Wait, Elder Gods? So Jehovah created the heavens and the earth in six days, but there are also these “Elder Gods” who govern the affairs of the Mortal Kombat tournament and the Earthlings and the Outworlders? How do THEY fit in? Why aren’t they mentioned in scripture? I always thought people were exaggerating when they said a movie was so bad it made them doubt the existence of God, but now I see what they mean.

Oh man, we are never gonna get through this if I keep obsessing over every little thing.

OK, big picture: The good guys have to stop the Outworld from fully merging with Earth and ending all life as we know it. To do this, they will have to fight a lot and do a lot of somersaults and yell things at each other. A dominatrix-looking lady named Kitana (Talisa Soto) and fellow good guy Liu Kang (Robin Shou) head off in one direction inside the “velosphere,” which is like one of those balls you put a hamster in, only big enough for humans. Rayden says cheerfully that the velosphere can “travel to anywhere on Earth within mere hours!” Yeah, Rayden, so can an airplane. So I’m not sure what the selling point of the giant hamster ball is.

While they’re traveling through the Earth’s core in the hamster ball, Kitana and Liu Kang encounter Scorpion, who you’ll recall is nothing like a scorpion. Then a good guy named Sub-Zero shows up and helps them fight, and then he goes away and the film never mentions him again.

Meanwhile, Sonya, the dumb blonde who says “What’s that supposed to mean?” in response to statements that only have one possible meaning, goes to a medical laboratory to get her friend Jax (Lynn Williams), a buff black dude who has just had bionic metallic arms attached for reasons that are not mentioned. I assumed he was part of this whole Mortal Kombat thing, but he seems not to have any idea who any of Sonya’s friends are. Also, since he’s The Black Guy, the movie makes him say things like “That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” and “Let’s do this!”

Jax and Sonya fight some ninjas.

Meanwhile, Liu Kang has to rescue Kitana, who got kidnapped by the Outworlders back when they were fighting Scorpion. Did I forget to tell you that? My bad. He’s told to search for a man called Night Wolf, and Night Wolf will help him. So Liu Kang is in the desert, searching, and it’s nighttime, and a guy who seems to be half-man and half-wolf jumps him, and Liu Kang says, “Who are you?,” even though it’s obviously Night Wolf. I mean, who else would it be? Night Wolf replies, “Wouldn’t you like to know?” Then Liu Kang says, “If you ARE Night Wolf, then–” and I couldn’t hear the rest because my brain was exploding.

Eventually, all the good guys reconvene and enter a portal that takes them to Outworld so they can fight the bad guys and rescue Kitana. We find out that Rayden and Shao Kahn are actually brothers, and that their father, the evil Shinnok (Reiner Schone), is one of the Elder Gods. This must have been the “Luke, I am your father” moment of the “Mortal Kombat” series. There’s a lot of fighting, and Rayden gets hit exactly one (1) time and dies. (No big loss.) Kitana is rescued and the bad guys are defeated and Kahn’s portals to Earth are closed and everyone lives happily ever after.

After the ludicrous dialogue and atrocious acting and lousy special effects and indecipherable story line and cheap sets and embarrassing production values, the thing I hate most about this movie is that it has no respect whatsoever for the laws of physics. This movie takes the laws of physics out back and maliciously violates them. People fly around willy-nilly, even the ones who are human mortals with no super powers. What’s more, when they fly (or are thrown, or punched), they move in odd directions, not smoothly like in “The Matrix” or “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Why, it’s almost as if they’re nothing more than a bunch of actors being jerked around on wires by bored Teamsters!

On the plus side, the characters keep talking about the need to “close Kahn’s portals,” which never fails to make me giggle. So there’s that.

— Film.com